ALMA telescope peers into the early universe at the first galaxies ever formed

Scientists looking through the ALMA telescope in Chile have discovered a faint dust cloud emanating from some of the earliest known galaxies in the universe, challenging conventions about star formation.
By Aaron Sims | Jul 23, 2015
In a landmarkfinding, astronomers in Europe have witnessedstar-forming gas clouds billions of light years away, which are very likely the constituentsof some of the first galaxies. According to a report from UPI, researchers spottedthe clouds by peeringdeep into space, past visiblelight sources and into the beginningof time.

Researchersat the European Southern Observatory in Chile used the ALMA telescope to gazeback towards the very beginning of the universe. They aimed the telescopeat some of the oldest known galaxies, some of which were formedonly 800 million years after the Big Bang.

They noticedthe sign of glowing carbon emanatingfrom one of these ancient galaxies, called BDF 3299. According to astronomer and the study's co-author Andrea Ferrara from Italy's Scuola Normale Superiore, "This is the most distant detection ever of this kind of emission from a 'normal' galaxy, seen less than one billion years after the Big Bang. It gives us the opportunity to watch the build-up of the first galaxies."

After the giantexplosion caused by the Big Bang, space was dottedwith gas clouds comprised ofdust. As these clouds began to createstars through a process called reionization, they dissipated and became hardto detect.

Astronomerssay that the glowing gas spottedby ALMA comesfrom BDF 3299 because it has departed from the center of the galaxy, pushed away by the forceexerted by young stars.

The findingcould lead to a new understanding ofhow our universe formed, and will likely challenge may conventionsabout early galaxies and star formation.


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